Chinese researchers help paper plant realise zero waste discharge

Chinese researchers have achieved the breakthroughs necessary for zero waste paper plants, significant for environmental protection.

Xu Nanping of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, told Xinhua that treatment film filtering technology has turned the 32,000-tonnes of waste water discharged by Jiangsu Oji Paper Co., Ltd each day into clean water, industrial salt and dried mud.

It took Xu and his team from Nanjing Technological University nine months to design the equipment. Xu is also deputy governor of east China’s Jiangsu Province and head of the provincial department of science and technology.

The project is managed by a local water treatment firm and has been running successfully since January 2014.

“Zero discharge of pulping waste water is unprecedented,” said Oshima Tadashi, deputy general manager of Jiangsu Oji, a Japanese company with an investment of nearly two billion U.S. dollars.

Paper plants are major polluters worldwide and it is common practice to discharge waste into rivers or the sea after treatment. The Oji plant once planned to discharge wastewater into the Yellow Sea via a pipeline but the project was canceled due to protests by people living along the coast.

The recycling project cost half as much as the pipeline was expected to and its operation costs are 30 per cent lower.

Currently, Oji Paper buys back 12,000 tonnes of reclaimed water from the treatment company every day. The recycled water is also bought by other companies. The quality of the water is better than that taken directly from the Yangtze or even tap water in terms of major quality indices, said Wang Chaohui, director of the area’s environmental protection bureau.

“The reuse of reclaimed water is of great value, especially for the Yangtze basin and regions short of water,” said Xu.

His success has made Xu confident that he can solve treatment issues for all industrial waste water. With analysis of waste components and use of membranes, zero discharge and maximum reuse is possible. The technology could play a vital role in water resource conservation around the world, said Xu.

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